Palestinian civilians unfairly targeted amid Israel-Hamas war, Metro Detroit Muslim leaders say

Several Metro Detroit Muslim leaders gathered Wednesday morning to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, stating that Palestinian civilians are facing unfair repercussions amid the conflict with Israel. 

"The people in Gaza are not part of a political party. The people in Gaza, that are being collectively punished by the illegal Israeli Zionist regime, they are being punished simply by virtue of being in a location – and that is what needs to be called to attention," said Imran Salha with the Islamic Center of Detroit. "Muslims have nothing against Jews. Muslims have everything against oppressors."

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, the spiritual leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, called what is unraveling in Gaza a "genocide against people who are already under siege and under occupation." 

Gazans are currently under a power blackout after the territory's sole power plant ran out of fuel. The Israeli government has also stopped supplying food, water, medicine, and other necessities.

Referring to the Israeli defense minister as a "war minister" Elahi said Yoav Gallant's recent statements calling Palestinians ‘animals’, and his order to completely cut off basic human needs is a "crime against humanity."

Elahi also questioned President Joe Biden's support of Israel, emphasizing that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leaders who support him are not looking for solutions, they are looking for war.

"The war is not the answer. Bombardment, bullets, bloodshed – not the answer," Elahi said. "Justice is the answer. End of occupation is the answer. Recognition of Palestinians' rights, dignity and existence is the answer."

Since Hamas executed its surprise attacks on Saturday, Israeli bombardment has demolished neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip and sealed off the only access point into Egypt, according to the Associated Press. As of Wednesday, Israel has formed a new wartime Cabinet and the "Israeli military appears increasingly likely to launch a ground offensive into Gaza."


As airstrikes devastate Gaza, Israel forms unity government to oversee war sparked by Hamas attack

The war has already claimed at least 2,300 lives on both sides, and a ground offensive in Gaza is likely to increase casualties.

The U.S. is in active conversations to allow for safe passage out of Gaza for civilians, White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby said Wednesday. He said Israel and Egypt were the two most significant players in those efforts

"We are having active conversations about trying to allow for that safe passage," Kirby said. "It’s the civilians who did nothing wrong so we want to make sure they have a way out."

The conflict overseas is not a Muslims vs. Jews issue, said Suleiman Hani, a resident scholar at the Muslim Community Mosque, claiming the violence Palestinians experience in Israel is structural and has been ongoing for 75 years.

"As human beings across the world, we don't want loss of life. We don't want to have to be reflecting on and dealing with the fact that so many people lost their lives – regardless of their religion, their ethnicity, their background," Hani said. "This is not a purely religious matter. There are political factors that have to be considered. Muslims are actually against antisemitism and many Jews are actually pro-Palestinian. This is a humanitarian issue."

Fundraisers are being established during Friday prayers at various Islamic centers throughout metro Detroit. The fundraiser at the Islamic Center of Detroit will be sponsored by Islamic Relief USA. There was also a rally Tuesday night at the Dearborn Civic Center where local Muslim leaders gathered to show support for Palestine. 


Michigan leaders, residents unite to show solidarity with Israel

Michigan leaders and metro Detroit residents gathered on Oct. 9 to show Israel support following surprise attacks from Hamas that left hundreds dead over the weekend.

Officials have also criticized state leaders like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sen. Gary Peters for being absent during the rally despite attending a Jewish gathering in a Southfield synagogue earlier this week. 

An Oct. 14 prayer is also scheduled; details will be released at a later date.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.